Kevin Mackenzie has created a really big sculpture for the people of Quadra Island

Metal Sculptor Kevin Mackenzie, from Quadra Island, has been part of the Salish Sea Market family since 2011, just a year after we opened. Kevin’s work has always garnered a huge amount of admiration and respect for how carefully he renders his ideas in metal. Whether it is his signature Kingfisher, or one of his three-dimensional Ravens, people are always in awe of his enormous talent.

Like many artists, the onset of Covid has caused things for Kevin to change quite a bit, the first being the closure of his gallery on Quadra Island. However, in true Kevin Mackenzie style, he reached into his creativity and found a way to bring a bright spot to the island. Here’s his story:

“When Covid started it didn't take long before things got really serious. Everything shut down, and work stopped for many. For me jobs stopped and we had to make the decision to close our art gallery, with no foreseeable future. It wasn't looking good for selling art and for getting work.  I looked on social media and saw that people were getting very depressed and anxiety was setting in, people were crying and fear was present. I was standing in my workshop taking all of this in when I thought to myself, what can I do to help make things better?  At that moment I began to sketch. I sketched a heart with a peace sign and some flowers. I let it set for a few days and thought about it. I had some 1/8" stainless plate sitting in my shop, enough to get started on my idea. I was simply going to do this because it needed to be done, something to help make people happy. Three days later after my sketch I began. I sculpted a big heart and a Peace sign both the same size 33" diameter. They are 4" thick. It took many hours, I think a couple weeks including all the grinding and sanding.  So ... there they were unfinished, a big heavy peace sign and a heart. At this point I had run out of work, money and materials to go any further, yet it was very important to me to keep going. My drive to do this was very strong. 

I thought that I could possibly get some funding to help because I wasn't going to sell this sculpture, I was just building it for Quadra Island and the people here. I had been posting progression pictures on Facebook and showing people what I was doing. I got in touch with the Chamber of Commerce and asked if they would help so we could get this public art piece to the people. They had to decline because if they helped me they would have to help all of the other artists that wanted help. I understood. It was very nice to know they all believed in and supported what I was doing.

I then thought of the senior citizens new housing project they are building on Quadra. If I donated it to the new facility that they would let me link a GoFundMe page to their site. Go figure. Free sculpture for the new senior housing. It went to a vote and they declined. So I was left with no place for the sculpture to go and no way to get it finished.

At that point, I was a little discouraged, so the next day I was riding my bike down a trail and ran into two of our local island mothers walking with their newborns, and I told them the story of it all. They had been following my progression posts. They said. “Hey, just ask for help from the community, forget a GoFundMe page, it costs money.” They said the community will make it happen. I was really struck by their belief in the community and wondered why I didn't just do that to begin with. I rode right home, after thanking them, and told the community what I was trying to accomplish. I needed to pay my work shop rent, I was closing Ravensong Gallery and needed to buy a lot more materials and welding supplies to finish the sculpture. I hit POST. Wow did I get support!  Members of the Chamber of Commerce donated, businesses, and so many individuals. We raised well over $5000. and I put some of my art up for auction which went very well. I've raised enough to finish the sculpture and pay the bills.  Island Networks gave a place for the sculpture to live. It all came together … we had a friend donate a lift truck and helped install it. We also had a public unveiling.  

I forgot to mention, as I was building the piece, I got the community involved by asking them what kind of flowers they would like to see, and what we should name it. The response was overwhelming and wonderful! There are chocolate lilies, foxglove, sunflowers, daisies and trillium, a Dragonfly, butterfly, bee and a leaping frog.      

The name of the sculpture is Silver Lining, a perfect name I think. Since the installation, it has become a shrine ... people put money and trinkets there.  It does its job well. Everyone who looks upon it smiles. It brings joy and good feelings to our island. Lots of people get their picture taken there.”  

And there you have our big-hearted, creative force, Kevin Mackenzie doing what he does best, bringing out the joy of life, in some of the darkest times, by gathering his community together to create beauty and meaning together.

Thanks Kevin, for all that you offer to your community and to the Salish Sea Market family! Everyone here is cheering you on!

contributed by sarah j clark, conductor of comings and goings